Aemon receives a message from an unknown Horizon exec, making a very subtle threat to him and his family, and suggesting they would rather put the past behind them and cooperate in the future. They tell him that the Consensus has decided that Ted McNicholson and Thom Harrow were overzealous in their pursuit of Jackpoint members, and that they would appreciate the team’s cooperation in the future, in Chicago and elsewhere. They’ll “be in touch.”
The team links up, and takes a call from a Johnson about an extraction. She tells them she needs a visiting professor grabbed from the University of Hamburg. She thinks he’ll be somewhat unwilling to leave his research, but she is confident in their abilities to “convince” him, although she would prefer him unharmed and cooperative. She says there may be a part 2 to the job if they perform well, and warns them that there may be others also seeking the prof.
They agree and head out to grab the professor, Jackson McKay, a fringe arcanoarchaeologist who is visiting from the University of Seattle. TY tries to disguise Ro, but ends up making her look even more like herself with some really harsh makeup defining the lines of her face clearly. They get the prof out of his basement lab no problem, after convincing him he’s under threat, but come under attack by an unknown force as they exit. Ortega and Aemon are ko’ed while protecting the prof, but TY and Ro manage to finish fighting the attackers off, steal their van, and exit. Ro invites a journalism student, Suzuki Jones, to join them after she requested an interview, having id’ed them as ’runners.
She proves to be very chatty throughout the drive to the safehouse and the first day they spend there, and Ro quickly regrets bringing her, but her and Aemon bond and make out, and TY and Ortega share some stories about growing up. Ro tries to plan how to quietly kill her, worrying she knows too much, but everyone else shoots that plan down. TY talks to Jane and agrees to pass along info to her and Ehran the Scribe about the islands, if he can. She also warns him of some sort of dark Harlequin that has been hiring runners for some sketchy gigs- she doesn’t offer a ton of info but tells them to steer clear.
They come under attack from another team, assisted by 2 spirits and some local gangers, but fight them off again. They find some small dragon pendants on the hit squad, and ID them as members of the Knights of the Dragon, a fanatical militant order within the Children of the Dragon cult. They aren’t sure why they want the professor (or want him dead) so bad, but they seem committed. They take off in the van again to stay mobile for the rest of the wait period, and avoid further trouble till they make the handoff.
They meet Ms. Johnson and get hired on to escort the prof and a group of mercs from Blackheart Security out to some islands that mysteriously appeared 2 days ago, off the AGS north coast. There’s a naval blockade, but she has arranged an opening. They agree, head out, and pass through a temporary gap between ships. They get tossed around extensively by a mana storm obscuring the islands from sight, but make it through (though the ship is listing to port a bit), and land. Hopefully they got there first…..
They spend a few days exploring the islands, and some odd, cyclopean ruins that they discover there. The ruins have a strong astral presence, and seem to have aged unnaturally. There is also a mist that wafts around, and some strange, mucus-covered humanoid statues that seem kind of off. McKay is super excited, but everyone else is starting to feel strange.
They have strange dreams, telling them to leave, and the ruins seem to become more and more visible, day by day.
On the third day, they awake to find that McKay is freaking out, telling them they have to flee immediately as the island is an unstable alchera that may vanish back to the astral realm at any moment, possibly pulling them with it. At the same time, Blackheart Sec tells everyone they are under attack, and the team is to get the professor back to the ship while BS fights a delaying action. They comply, and come under fire from another KotD force recon squad. They barely escape death, with Aemon glimpsing the other side before his trauma patch brings him around. They make the boat, and Ro and TY get it running just in time.
They put out to sea as the BS mercs retreat onto the beach. Their leader and a few others make it to one of the launches as the ruins start flickering, but the rest of the mercs and cultists seem oddly distracted. Suddenly everything flashes out, and the team finds themselves aboard the boat under unfamiliar stars- they realize eventually they are near Seattle. McKay explains that they must have got shunted when the alchera collapsed, and there is no sign of the mercs. They contact Mrs. johnson, and she tells them to stay put, and sends more mercs via chopper to their location. She arrives the next day, pays them, and they had over the prof. They get ferried to shore, and TY arranges for free medical care, courtesy of Butch, after Jane calls in a favor in trade for all of TY’s recordings of the data. He also gets the prof to promise to send him a preview of his research once he gets it all written up.
Aemon ends up in the clinic for most of a week, the rest of the team heals more quickly. They get contacted by the Exchange and told of a job that they are to take while they are in town. They also set up a safehouse in the Ork Underground, and buy some spare weapons and ammo to store there, allowing them to travel more unimpeded.